ISIS trying to establish foothold in Pakistan, Ministry of Interior tells Senate

Pakistan's Interior Ministry has said that Pakistan, which is currently grappling with a significant influx of Tehreek-i-Taliban terrorists in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is also facing threat of the Islamic State (ISIS), which is making efforts to establish a presence

FP Staff January 03, 2024 13:39:32 IST
ISIS trying to establish foothold in Pakistan, Ministry of Interior tells Senate

Representational image. Reuters

Pakistan’s Interior Ministry has said that Pakistan, which is currently grappling with a significant influx of Tehreek-i-Taliban terrorists in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is also facing threat of the Islamic State (ISIS), which is making efforts to establish a presence.

According to PTI, the ministry’s statement was issued during a Senate briefing on the escalating influence and activities of Tehreek-i-Taliban following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. The interim Afghan government’s inaction against the banned group has contributed to the heightened concerns.

The interior ministry, in response to questions, emphasised Tehreek-i-Taliban’s reorganisation and operational expansion during peace talks in 2022, resulting in a significant uptick in militant activities.

The group is actively seeking support from other militant factions to enhance its strength and capabilities. Primarily concentrated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in merged districts, it also has a presence in Balochistan and is attempting to activate its network across the country.

It said that the arrival of TTP in significant numbers continues in merged districts, along with the recruitment, training and placing of suicide bombers, is a cause of concern.

The ministry said Daesh an Arabic acronym for the self-proclaimed Islamic State militant group was also trying to establish a foothold in Pakistan and resorted to terrorist activities against Shias and religious minority communities to ignite sectarian strife.

It said fencing along the western borders of Pakistan had largely been completed to further strengthen the state mechanism of curbing the illegal movement from across the border.

However, it pointed out that the two organisations, particularly the TTP, continued to sabotage the fence.

Pakistan started fencing its porous borders with Afghanistan in March 2017, after facing a spate of deadly attacks from Afghanistan-based militant groups in the previous year.

The barrier, being built on the 2,640-km border, also known as the Durand Line, is near completion. It passes through rugged mountains, densely forested valleys and narrow rock passages.

Militants have ramped up their attacks since they revoked a ceasefire with the Pakistani government in November 2022.

In the deadliest attack on security forces in the outgoing year, at least 23 Pakistan Army soldiers were martyred and more than 30 troops wounded on 12 December after militants belonging to the Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan stormed a compound used by the military in Dera Ismail Khan’s Daraban area.

The ministry also said data of 1.45 million registered refugees was updated and expanded through the issuance of smart identity cards. The cards contain basic information, including biometric data, and are compatible with the local systems, it said.

About dismantling the communication networks to combat online extremism, it said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was actively monitoring cyberspace.

A total number of 16,522 complaints were forwarded to social media platforms for blocking of radical/sectarian, anti-state and terrorist content during 2022, it said.

With inputs from agencies

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